RAGAN ACHIEVES CAREER BEST 3RD PLACE FINISH AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY RICHMOND, Va. (September 8, 2007) -- This weekend's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 marked the final race for the Chase and although David Ragan was not in contention for a spot...
RAGAN ACHIEVES CAREER BEST 3RD PLACE FINISH AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
RICHMOND, Va. (September 8, 2007) -- This weekend's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 marked the final race for the Chase and although David Ragan was not in contention for a spot in the top-12 he would be making his second NEXTEL Cup start at Richmond International Raceway and was looking for a good finish.
Ragan and the No. 6 AAA team qualified eighth for the 400 lap event and rolled off pit road at approximately 7:50pm EST for the start of the race.
Ragan quickly dropped back into the top-20 during the first laps of the competition while struggling with a tight race car with little forward bite. There were several cautions throughout the first 70 laps of the race and crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, took those opportunities to bring Ragan into the pits and make adjustments to his AAA Ford. On lap 25 Ragan came in for four tires and an air pressure adjustment and on lap 64 the crew took one round out of the track bar and a half pound of air out of the left rear tire.
When the track went green again on lap 70 Ragan was running in 20th position. By the time the next caution came out on lap 131 Ragan was seeing some improvements in his Ford Fusion, but still needed some help from the team. He came down pit road on lap 133 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Ragan reentered the field in 15th place.
The track went green again on lap 136, but trouble came along less than ten laps later when the No. 25 car made contact with Ragan's AAA Ford. Spotter, Tony Hirschman, radioed to the team that they may have a left front tire rub as a result of the incident, but Fennig did not want to assume anything. He kept Ragan out on track and it turned out to be the right decision; Ragan did not have any severe damage to his race car. He was able to remain on track until the caution flag came out on lap 182 as a result of teammate Carl Edwards blowing an engine while leading the race.
Ragan headed down pit road on lap 183 for fresh tires, fuel and a track bar and air pressure adjustment to help maintain the handling of his Ford Fusion.
When the next caution came out on lap 201 Fennig told Ragan to stay out in an attempt to gain track position. Ragan moved up to 16th place for the restart on lap 207.
Ragan gradually began to make his way through the field and was running 14th on lap 232 when he radioed to his team that the car was really close to being just right and if any adjustments were made they needed to be small ones.
There were several cautions throughout the second half of the race not to mention the field was red flagged twice due to fluid on the track.
When the caution flag came out on lap 293 Ragan was running eighth. He came into the pits for a four tire stop with no adjustments, but Ragan lost site of his pit stall and almost drove past it. He didn't have to back up, but the angle at which he stopped in the pit stall threw off the crew a little bit and put Ragan back out in 12th position.
Although the stop didn't help Ragan advance at all he still had a good race car and once the field went green again he quickly started working his way back to the front. When the next caution came out on lap 335 Ragan was back in eighth place and was heading in for his final stop of the day. The AAA pit crew gave him four tires; fuel and an air pressure adjustment before sending him back out in ninth place.
The green flag dropped again on lap 350 and Ragan began his final charge with 50 laps to go. He began picking the cars off one by one and by lap 394 Ragan was running in third place and closing in on the second place No. 20 driven by Tony Stewart. With only six laps to go Ragan maintained his position and crossed the finish line in third place as the top finishing Raybestos Rookie and securing his career best finish in the NEXTEL Cup Series.
"That was a good, solid run," said Ragan. "The AAA Ford Fusion was good since we unloaded and just a lot of fun to be able to unload with some notes from the last race and then be able to be fast in the race. We had good pit stops and everything just worked out good. We've had some good cars this year. But for pit stops to go right, for us to not have any mistakes on restarts, several things have just got to go right and it was just a good night. In this Cup racing, you just can't have any mistakes. A good car might get you a 15th-place finish. Everybody on the AAA pit crew did an awesome job on pit road tonight and it shows they can hang in there with those top-five or top-10 teams. Like I said, when you have a good car everything is just a lot easier."
Ragan is currently 21st in the NEXTEL Cup Series point standings and second in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Race.